Study shows lower crime by kids in summer job programs in Boston

BOSTON — A new study by the Boston Fed found violent crime dropped by almost half among young people who attended at least one summer job program in Boston.

"We found a 35 percent reduction in violent crime and a 57 percent reduction in property crime,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, the study’s author.

Boston 25 News has reported at least 10 shootings since July 1 in Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester and the end of June saw five arrests and the recovery of three loaded guns in just one night on the 27. Four of the suspects were 18 and under.

Researchers said it’s not just about keeping kids busy but having children learn the basics of conflict resolution.

At The Achieve Program, program organizers are trying just that – and the kids say it’s working.

“The best part is it feels like home. It’s my second home here. And you’re surrounded by friends and family and you feel supported. And when you’re failing they catch you. And they’ll make sure you get through it,” said Lydia Disla of Southie.

Lydia has attended The Achieve Program at the Dedham site for the last three years. It is a summer academic and enrichment program through Boston Public Schools. In a unique approach, it combines summer school with enrichment programming

“We can’t stop what actions people do but we can change the community by changing the energy by making kids feel safer,” said Lydia.

Lydia and her friend Edward Garcia call it a sanctuary for learning how to relate to others.

“It’s like a relief. It’s like a sanctuary. Where kids are able to work on how to work together and share their different views,” said Edward.

Experts in the field call them soft skills but say they’re key to cutting crime rates.

"They're bringing back to school and to their neighborhoods new relationships, connections to institutions they weren't previously engaged with and a toolset that will help them succeed," said Chris Smith, executive director of Boston After School and Beyond.

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